>> speaking of george bush, how do you or will you be reading decision points, particularly the chapters on afghanistan and iraq? >> well, i read very, very extensively on memoirs by investigative journalist, reports leaked from the bush administration and made a decision to keep working on the book of the end of the bush administration. password research stopped. i worked on his biography certainly. but i hope i can move on to a subject that are cultures peace or something else in the future rather than go back. >> possessors john dower has already won the national book award. in fact, he won the pulitzer prize.
he has been nominated for the 2010 national book award nonfiction category for "cultures of war: pearl harbor, hiroshima, 9-11, iraq." .. provides an insider's look at the division among bush administration officials over how to proceed following the attacks of 9/11. he also discusses how the plan to invade iraq was developed. the the former commander-in-chief of the u.s. special operations command talks war and politics with former u.s. defense secretary, william cohen.
>> host: general shelton it is a pleasure to see you and for full disclosure tell the audience that we have the pleasure of serving together and it was my honor to serve with you for more than three years. when we were both at the pentagon, you were chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the secretary of defense so this is almost i guess the second time we had seen each other since the heyday so to speak. >> guest: what i would like to do during the course to the next hour is to talk about your book without hesitation, which is a fascinating story of your life. i was once asked how long it took me to write a certain book and i was being flip and quoted somebody else saying, my whole life. what you have done is you have written your whole life in this book, and i thought it would be interesting to go back and look at few pieces and how it came together for you to become chairman of the joint chiefs of
staff. tell me about north carolina. what was life like? >> guest: thanks mr. secretary and first of all is great to be with you again and it was my honor and my pleasure to serve with you and for you during our days as secretary and me as the chairman. north carolina is a small eastern north carolina rural community basically composed of what tom brokaw called the greatest generation. that is the environment i grew up in. my mother taught school they ar. there were a couple of three stores they are in town, and where everyone hung out if you will read it old-timers would gather and drink coca-cola and in a glass bottle can eat moon pies or whatever. >> host: or moonshine. >> guest: or moonshine or whatever. it is a great environment for young person to grow up in and the church was a part of the community as well and the idea
was that you learned at home and were reinforced in both church and home. >> host: population? >> guest: population would range i would say at its maximum he got up to 200 people, maybe if you count every dog and cat in town. >> host: you were a farm boy is such? >> guest: i grew up on a farm two and a half miles outside of there. my wife carol of 47 years grew up in the heart. >> host: i think he said when you were in fourth grade. >> guest: it was in the fourth grade we met. i jokingly say sometimes i propose to her in the fifth grade but that is not true. we started going together when we were in high school and ultimately married when i graduated from n. c. state. let's go back to speed because that captures a little bit about you. you were so speedy in fact he skipped third grade as i understand it. >> guest: i did. my mother was a schoolteacher in the school and she basically had me through the first grade before i ever started first
grade and she was my teacher and she used to remind me of how i would go to school and cried. i was bored to tears and so when i went since second grade, that teacher proposed that i just skipped the third and go on to the fourth. dare they got me to struggle a little more than i had in the past and that made it much more enjoyable. >> host: in terms of speed you also had a fascination with speed as i read in your story. you were 16 years old and you have become a bus driver by that point? >> guest: i had but unfortunately they had governors on those buses and the max. >> that i could get normally was about publicly 28, 29 maybe 30 miles an hour but if you reached up under that -- and loosened the vacuum hose you could get it up to 32 and get a little more speed all the way to 32 miles an hour. >> host: was it an infraction of the law at that point? >> guest: just a little bit. the bus drivers and mechanics
would always check that and of course it was always back in place. >> host: how tall were you then? >> guest: i was, in the seventh grade i was about 5 feet 7 inches and by the time i got to eighth grade i was 6 feet 2 inches. >> host: i assume you play basketball? >> guest: i did. the high school was so small we didn't have a football team but i play played both baseball and basketball. i loved both. >> host: i assumed -- >> host: i did. at 6 feet 5 inches i was the center and one of the biggest centers in the conference. of course nowadays i am sure for a point guard at the university. >> host: and he went on to north carolina state. >> guest: i did. i had grown up with a couple of -- and i was a young person. i wanted to to go to end the state and in fact when i took the entrance exam my scores were so low they didn't want to let me in.
so my father suggested i go to another school which is a great school and the first time in my life i pushback on him saying if i can go to state i won't go anywhere. ultimately i took a correspondence course and was accepted into the university. >> host: but you had some problems. you really wanted to be an aeronautical engineer? >> guest: i did. i wanted to be in aeronautical engineer and i was a straight a student. didn't study, did it with a breeze but when i hit n. c. state my world turned upside down. tied to that also i wanted to play basketball. finally the coaches called me in and said we want to bring it you on the team but you are not doing very well. you are flunking three out of five courses right now. you have got to change her curriculum. i said no, i won't do that. to recreation and park at administration which is what they wanted. so i decided i wasn't going to play basketball but i did change into textiles which i found fascinating. >> host: tell me how you
happen to turn to textiles. you were vaccinating -- fascinated with the making of socks? >> guest: my roommate at one point was majoring in textiles, and he had these books and they had swatches of cloth and he would talk about them. i found some of that stuff to be really fascinating. i got interested in it and went to talk to people and textile school and the next thing i knew i was a textile major and really enjoyed that. >> host: and what led you to look to the military? >> guest: the north carolina state was a land grant college and consequently during those days you had to take two years of our tc-99. i took those two years and i enjoyed it, so i found out that if you went into the third or fourth year you had to commit to a two-year obligation in the army. but, they paid you $20 -- $27 a month and to a farmboy from speed that was a big mouth money
so i said sign me up, and will do it. accepted a two-year obligation and received my $27 a month for my last two years of school. >> host: did you get an offer from the textile firm? before you went into the military? >> guest: i did. i finally selected one and went for an interview in south carolina with regal textile corporation which had -- it had the largest smell in the united states. it's got caught in the back and produced spinach at the other end which was unusual to have a finishing plant as well. so, i signed up for, i signed a contract with them with the understanding that i had two years in the military to do before i could join them. they said no problem, we will wait for you and they did. >> host: when were you married? >> guest: as soon as a graduated from school i went straight to fort benning to the entry officer basic course to start my two-year obligation in the army and as soon as i completed that, i returned to
speed for three or four days and carol and i were married in the whole church we had gone two and grew up in and where my mother played the organ for 63 years. and that is where we were married and immediately turned around and drove right back to fort benning. >> host: did caroline go with you? >> guest: she did. she went with me and i went back and left her there right outside the gate to fort benning and i said i will be back in just a minute and i want to run out and sign into the ranger department, so that they don't charge me for leaf. but i will come back. >> host: you were there two days early. >> guest: i got there actually three or four days early so i've been out and said i will come back and i went out and signed in. the methods i signed and i said when do i have to report him for the course? they said you are a ranger. get upstairs. you are staying here. so i had to the car keys. i have to checkbook and i had the money and my wife was there.
this guy, the sergeant had told me to get upstairs. you are in our ranger, stephen. so i did but it did me all night long. i said i've got to get out of here so the next morning i went down and found the captain tack officer and they said i have a lease got to give my wife the car keys and checkbook. he gave me two hours to go back and give her that and then returned to the course. fortunately she was still there when i return. that was her first experience with the army. >> host: what was the last that you learned from that experience where you were there early thinking you would have enough time to go back and take care of things at home? what was the lesson that came out of that for you? >> guest: the real lesson that i carried with me for the next 38 years in the military was to have got to make sure when you receive soldiers into the unit that your families are taken care of before you put them to work. you can't just, the minute they sign and say we are leaving tomorrow for an exercise or whatever.
make sure families are settled. otherwise their mind will not be in their duties. >> host: i think you have written the soldier is not satisfied his family is being taken care of he or she is not going to be able to do their job. >> guest: if we don't take your families and the military that they are going to be a big influence on whether or not we are able to keep that individual in the armed forces. >> host: tell me about your experience. what was your first jump like and why did you want to be a ranger and an airborne? >> guest: i was a young infantry officer and i thought airborne ranger, that is what being an infantry officer is all about so if i want to go to jump school and ranger school than i might as well forget about being all i can be. so i applied for that and eventually was accepted and i was going out on my first parachute jump and i told my wife, i will be be the next next-to-last man coming out of the airplane to keep your eyes on that parachute. i am on the first plane so sure enough she went out to the drops on that day in the plane flew
over but what she didn't know and i didn't realize was that the last minute they would reverse the order and i was going to be the second man out of the aircraft, not next-to-last. as they went out of the aircraft everything went well. i could buy 4000 pounds and as i got to 4000 i didn't feel that great tug meaning to shoot at open. i glanced up quickly and saw my shoot was all wrapped around itself in what is called a cigarette role. i look down and the ground is coming down 90 miles an hour and i'm getting close. training came in and i the rip cord on my reserve and turned my head as i was supposed to end the thing came out like a shotgun. i was about 100 feet off the ground and i hit the ground pretty hard. immediately they pounced on me and grabbed that cheat because they wanted to check it for malfunction. then they said you get over there and get on the track. you are going in for another jump and they put me on another plane. if the horse throws you you get right back on was the philosophy so i made a second job.
my wife who witnessed the whole thing but thought it was someone else said how sorry she felt for that young trooper that almost killed himself out on the drop site. she said, who was that? did you know him? i said you really don't want to know so that is when she found out it was me. by that time i had made his second jump and i think everything -- said everything went just fine. >> host: let me flash forward now. you had a rough experience that first jump and it nearly cost you your life. you also have a chance to jump with president bush 41, and he likes to jump on his 75th and maybe 80th birthday. was at the 75th? 75th birthday. tell us about that. >> guest: it was a great day and beard were at texas a&m university. there were a total of eight of us altogether ever going to jump that day with him. he went out first and as i had experienced on my 14th
freefall jump or you don't have anyone, he had two guys jumping with him but he was by himself and he was going to do the activation. he lost control. he started tom ling and i am up above him looking down at this thinking, oh manned the president has got a problem. he had andy serrano who was a great -- of the army parachute team the same guy that trained me so i knew he was in good hands but he had thrown both of them away in tumbling. they originally were holding onto him. so they finally got him stabilized and they pulled issued and he landed. i landed and he came running over and said, hugh, have you ever experienced anything like that? i thought i was going to die. i said mr. president i have experienced the same thing but it is a terrifying experience. he went right back and did it again and i admire him. >> host: you have had a total of 450 jumps from 30,000 feet?
during the course of your career. yet you had one fall from a very low level that resulted in a pretty bad consequence. what i could talk about what happened to you? >> guest: it was ironic that five months after i retired i was trimming a tree in my backyard. i love to do handiwork in the week before a trend a couple of really big 100th year oak trees with some really big limbs on them but on this particular morning i went out and started trimming a very small branch office the tree that was right on the borderline between my neighbors yard and fine. there was a cyclone fence there, about 4 feet tall and my feet were 5 feet off the ground. i trend the first limb no problem but it didn't fall. it stayed there. then i trimmed the one right below it and it gave way in both limbs hit the extension arms on the ladder and cause the latter to twist. not a really big deal, i pitched the chainsaw off to the left and
did a bunny hop to the right but as they did that and started my momentum to go to the ground, my feet caught the top of the cyclone fence propelling me forward onto my head and when i hit i was paralyzed from the neck down. i knew what i had done instantaneously that the problem was all so i get my drift. i damage the nerve that controls controls -- and i thought i had knocked the wind off of myself but i struggle to get air. it wouldn't, and i thought to myself, 450 parachute jumps and i'm going out like this. this is not something right about this picture but eventually my air came back and a neighbor heard me hollering as i would do every so often because it was very cold and my wife is in sight. she heard it and i said please have mike wife call 911. they carried me to a local hospital and in northern virginia and there i was told by the surgeon who looked at it originally, you will never walk again and never be able to use
your hands. >> host: your reaction to that? >> guest: i couldn't see him but i could see his presence because he had a big cervical column. i asked him if his name was god and he said no it is not. thisthis dr. so-and-so. i said good, we will see about that then. fortunately, carolyn had called the command to walter reed and victor -- dr. dave pauly. they look at the results and said we have got work to do. we have got to get you out of here so he went out to walter reed and just -- i called it luck or an act of god. there was a young man named jeff lane and major in the army at the time, a colonel who had been trained at john hopkins and how to treat spinal cord injuries by raising your blood pressure and forcing blood around the injury. they told me what they would like to do and i asked what are the downsides? they said the downside is either a massive stroke or a heart attack but we think you have got
a good heart. we think you can withstand. i said let's go for it. he agreed instantly and in a few minutes they were raising the blood pressure and for six or seven hours i stayed toasty warm and they had doctors swarming all over me. eventually i think it worked because 83 days later i walked out of walter reed. >> host: the choice for you at that point was remain paralyzed our take this life-threatening technique that may restore your ability to walk again? >> guest: yes sir. sir. it was an easy choice. carolyn and i both agree, let's go for it. >> host: you spend 83 days at walter reed? >> guest: 83 days and i can't say enough good things about walter reed. the team there and the uncapped in came in. i was totally paralyzed and the third day he said i am going to get you in your feed and start walking. i started laughing.
captain zach solomon who was a triathlete himself said i'm not kidding, we are going to get you up and he did. i immediately passed out and they sounded acod. the next thing i know they had 20 doctors surrounding me. my name is hugh shelton and i know just fainted. let's get on with it, we need to try again. >> host: they are the people that -- another person that called you at that time, ross perot. >> guest: a large number. i had a visit from the secretary of defense, bill cohen and his wife janet the first night i believe her second night that i was there. lots of people that showed their concern and you know, you and i'd vote have posted lots of dinners for our counterparts and i found out that during my 83 days what that had really meant to a lot of individuals around the world because the cards and letters that came from some of those counterparts that we have hosted in our home or just
unbelievable. as well as of course from around the united states from people all over the country. that support meant a tremendous amount. king abdulah can flew back and came to sydney in the hospital. he is a great king and a great individual. we developed a friendship while he was serving in special operations in jordan. just a lot of people to include both presidents, president bill clinton they came and visited and people like connie stephens. >> host: let's go back and talk about what does that mean to be chairman of the joint chiefs of staff? what does the chairman do? >> guest: it is an awesome responsibility because he basically represent the men and women in uniform at the highest position as principle adviser to the secretary of defense, to the president of the united states and the national security council. that is basically what you do. you have a 1200 man staff of some of the finest people in uniform of all services, army,
navy, coast guard represented etc. and you advise the secretary of defense and the president on the best military options for a particular situation that we find ourselves in. >> host: as high as that position as you were not in the "chain of command." what do you mean by that? >> guest: the chain of command actually runs from our combatant commanders, people like central command and pacific command into the secretary of defense and the president. that is the chain. the chairman is the adviser to that chain, but if you don't have a good relationship and a good connection to the individuals out in the field, then you are unable to give the secretary of defense the best advice. the other thing that you can do, if they work a lot of these issues through the chairman you can start the ball boarding -- rolling before you advise the
president to get lined up to be able to carry out whatever decision they make. >> host: basic lead can be cut out of the chain of communication if you have a combatant commander weiss to call them sinks, but if you have a combatant commander who wants to report directly to the secretary of defense and not talk to you, and that secretary of defense goes directly to the president than they don't necessarily have to consult you. what is your reaction to that? >> guest: that was an issue we had well before goldwater-nichols. goldwater-nichols tried to fix that by making sure that we had a principle secretary to the president. if you do that, if you cut out the chairman you are cutting out the joint chiefs of staff which made in the conference room called the tank. in there they discussed various things related to these operational issues that they can do to help back combatant commander and if you cut that group out of this, as we found happens during the rumsfeld
tenure in office, where the chairman and the joints chiefs are pushed to the side and marginalized if you will, then 200 years of military experience or found in those six individuals, those joints chiefs are being an ignored and pushed to the side. the president and the secretary did not necessarily get the best military advice. >> host: does that qualify -- there is a book written by general mcmaster about dereliction of duty. d. want to talk about the importance of that book and the question we are going to ask is there a dereliction of duty if you have the chairman of the joint chiefs and other members of the joints chiefs who are struggled aside and don't participate and basically providing collective wisdom to the secretary and the president of the united states? is that a dereliction of duty? >> guest: that book i would recommend to anyone who wants to look at the inside
decision-making process that went on during vietnam and what you find when you read mcmaster's book is there is dereliction at every level. >> joint chiefs don't come across very well and that a remedy there because they really didn't have a chairman. they were a collective group but depending on who the senior man in town was that day, he tried to speak for the group so you found parochial things taking place even within the joint chiefs but most of all you found some d.c. to. you found some deception going on during that period where the president and the secretary were not getting the best military advice and we really want to organize to make sure that happened. goldwater-nichols came along and establish the chairman and principle adviser, gave him of vice chairman that would represent the joint in his absence and made the joint chiefs a body of people that could then provide the best military advice. the book which outlines that very well i think, shows that if
you don't have the joint chiefs as envisioned under goldwater-nichols, than the president, the secretary and the national security council are not necessarily going to get the best military. >> host: what was the message from that pastors, that the military allows it to take place or engages in either altering the advice or shaping it and away it is politically designed from a pure military point of view that constitutes a dereliction of duty? is that way you gave that book to each of your joint chiefs to it from my then they had obligation to never let that happen? >> precisely. when i first went into office and read the book i did carry a copy and gave it to each of the joint chiefs and said we have got to make sure this never happens and as you recall very well, you read the book yourself i think we all gained from that in terms of making sure we worked together as a team and everything we did was
transparent and that we used that collective latte to provide the best advice. when a combatant commander would come into the tank and brief his plan, he had the air force chief sitting there to say it is really good i can do these things for you to make it even better and the army would say and i can give you more than you are asking for or whatever. so they it really help but if you are one who doesn't like to get constructive criticism, you find that process to be not to your liking and i think that is what we found during our re-entry into iraq in 2003 and that does constitute a dereliction of duty in my opinion. >> host: which of the joint chiefs had gone at that point? they find themselves being excluded. do they continue on doing what they do and being ignored or do they protest by offering to step aside? guess who i think the joint chiefs need to inject themselves
into a process like that and make sure that they are not marginalized. i mean, if i were the chairman and my advice were being ignored or i did not think the joint chiefs were being gainfully used in this process, then i might as well resign, because i'm not helping the secretary of defense the president or the nation. >> host: did you ever offer to resign from your position? >> guest: to be frank i never had to because i was never put in that position. there were occasions toward the end of my tenure when i did in fact go up and say for example, when the secretary, your successor secretary rumsfeld wanted to fire the director of the joint staff. that i barged in and said if you fire him you get two for the price of one because if you are not happy with him you are obviously not happy with me. i haven't heard a word about that but if that is the case in both of us will leave.
i feel like i didn't walk around looking for reasons to leave. i enjoyed the job and really liked the job but i also wanted to be a part of the team, not excluded from the process. >> host: but that was a case of you speaking truth to your superiors as the civilian head of the military, saying that if you take this action i am leaving. and there were other examples where you felt the need need to confront authority. i think there was one occasion in which you had a dispute with admiral crowell about whether a submarine was a diesel or a nuclear. >> guest: admiral crown uses submarines in it a while. in fact he knew his ships. when we used to brief on the persian persian gulf operations he could tell you that believe numbers in the persian gulf, the way these ships would be in the area. one morning about 1:00 in the morning we had a submarine that sank off of key west and i
called the admiral. i already looked it up in james and i thought i knew everything there was to know about this submarine. but the minute i told him the submarine name, he said that as a nuclear. i said no mr. chairman that is a diesel. he said you need to get your facts together general. that is a nuclear submarine. i said sir, i will doublecheck and call you right back but by that time first version was breaking out of my roe. i thought how could i make a mistake like this? we read james again and sure enough it was a diesel. so i called them back immediately and said it is a diesel submarine. i stood my ground and fortunately with him being navy and knowing ships like he did i thought surely i made a mistake. >> host: you had another problem with the navy admiral, admiral miller? could you talk about that? >> guest: we had designed under admiral miller's guidance we designed a plan to go into haiti and involved lots of moving pieces, navy air force
marines, you name it. and we decided to put army troops aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time. i had carved out an area of haiti for the marines to to go into where they could do an amphibious operation bite out of their doctrine. they were going into, we had an airborne going in very close to port-au-prince and i had special operations taking down some real key targets right into the port of -- port-au-prince. all of a sudden at at that the last-minute admiral miller called me up and told me -- and i said that was them and a cross going directly perpendicular to the flow of our forces. it is fratricide waiting to happen. he said that is the way i wanted to happen. i went in to see admiral miller and i told him why was there and i said i'm very concerned about your decision to put the marines in this place. in fact, i do not go along with it. he said are you telling me i
will have to get a new jt jt commander if i insist on doing it that way? i said that is exactly what i'm telling you because that subjects are people to death. it really does, necessarily. we have got a great plan and you approve the plan but now you want to change it at the last minute. he said let me think about is the life flew back to fort bragg not going if i would be in command the next day. a few minutes later the phone rang and he said i reconsidered. you are right. >> host: is a great story but let's take a break. i want to follow-up with some of the other stories contained in this book. >> after words with hugh shelton and william cohen will continue after this short break.
after words of a sub hugh shelton and william cohen continues. >> host: mr. chairman you had an interesting experience for a way after becoming chairman of the joint chiefs. you had a meeting in the situation room at the white house. could you describe what took place? >> guest: right after reading dereliction of duty which i never thought i would see anything like that in the administration that i was joining, i went to a meeting, a breakfast at the well and the national security adviser's office. it would only be attended as you remember yourself by the secretary of state and a number of other individuals and occasionally other cabinet members that might be asked to come in to speak on a certain subject. you were gainfully employed with the national security adviser and there were other sidebar conversations going on.
we hadn't really got into the formal discussions or informal discussions that would take ways all of a sudden one of the members, cabinet members leaned over and said i know i shouldn't ask you this but i will ask anyway. would you consider flying a u2 which is a recognizance plane that flies at 70,000 feet for operational reasons as well as staying in a secret mode in terms of the iraqi's knowing we were there. would you consider flying that low enough so that the iraqi's could shoot it down, therefore giving us a precipitous event that would allow us to go in and take out saddam hussein? well the hair on the back of my neck stood up, my fists clenched in my teeth got very tight and i through clenched teeth said of course they can. the individual broke out in a big smile and i said, just as soon as i get your buts qualified to fly. i will fly as low and slow as you would like to go. the individual reels back and
said i knew i shouldn't have asked you that. i said you are right, he shouldn't. that is not the way we do things in america. we are not going to subject him to harm just so we have an event to go into iraq. then i went back to the tank and i said, you know i asked you to read dereliction of duty. you may not things things like that can go on but trust me they do. i didn't reveal the name of the individual and i didn't because i saw the remorse on the individual and they knew that they had learned a great lesson that day and i didn't see any reason to continue to embarrass them in the process. >> host: but there were other examples during her four years at the pentagon as chairman, where we were fixated on getting some of them out and a lot of questions that come up over the years, why has it been so difficult? there were a number of proposals made. when they came up was why not just put a special forces unit,
drop them covertly into afghanistan, tracked down bin laden and take him out? what was your reaction to that particular proposal? >> guest: they were a number of proposals as you recall like that and i think some of them would, come, peyser bristled that people may be going going to see a rambo movie over the weekend, come in on monday morning and say i've got this great idea. they don't take into account of many cases we don't operate like that in america either. we don't just put people where we can't get to them and where they are subject to be over run or killed without us being able to even get into extract the bodies so in order to put a team deep into afghanistan it was an hour helicopter flight. in order to do that or drop them and have the capability to going to get him you had to have the refueling capabilities. you have to have some kind of search-and-rescue that could go in quickly in case the engine went out and route. you had to overfly iraq or pakistan in both of them had the
capability of going after us with high performance aircraft so you you have to have air defense or you had to try to coordinated and as you recall, we couldn't coordinate with either one of them because they have direct lines right into osama bin laden's forces. so it was very complicated and most people didn't want to hear that. they wanted you to be able to snap your fingers and perform magic and we just didn't have magic. we tried hard as you recall to get osama bin laden but not at the expense of subjecting our own people to death or to a situation where we could not assist them in the process. >> host: it would have taken anywhere from 100 to two or 300 aircraft or other moving parts to have a small unit inserted into afghanistan. >> guest: exactly. one harebrained idea you may recall, he is going to fly to chechnya and we want you to prepared and have a couple of f-16s on standby that can shoot
down this aircraft. our response to that was well, how do we know he is even on the aircraft and what happens if he is not on the aircraft? you recall at one point we thought we had them in kandahar but if we fired missiles into kandahar and didn't get him we were going to kill 300 individuals, women and children included, without any assurance whatsoever that he was there. in one particular case we elected not to do it. we found out later we would have missed him by three hours had we done that they get we would have had 300 people killed and we would have been branded as terrorists ourselves. it gets to be very complicated. will we get osama bin laden? my answer is yes we will get him. is just a matter of time but with all the intelligence we have focused on him he is just got to make one mistake. he is very good the way he operates. >> host: can you talk about the one time he thought he really had an opportunity to get bin laden and he called the
services of your great vice chair, and joseph olson? >> guest: we thought at one time we had a chance to get him because he was occasionally at some of the training camps in afghanistan. and in order to do that we were going to have to fire missiles that would go through the airspace. they launched tomahawk missiles coming out of either submarines or ships at sea but they would have to fly across pakistan. our concern was if the pakistanis picked up on these missile flying through their airspace with their radar, they might think it was india launching a nuclear attack and they might respond accordingly. i asked vice chairman ross and if he would use his friendship with the army chief of staff and fly into pakistan and have dinner at the same time we would launch the missiles to go across the pakistani airspace.
we launch the missiles and wind down range and unfortunately we did not get osama bin laden but it wasn't because we didn't try and we did get a number of other terrorist there were training in the camps at the time. so joe did a yeoman service for the nation and was there in case the services were needed. >> host: he was there as the missiles were flying over and have a been detected he could've talked to his counterparts. >> guest: exactly. >> host: you have done a lot with leadership and you talk a lot about leadership. you are also heading up a center of leadership at north carolina state. talk about how do you identify leaders? how do you groom them? is it something they have innately? how do you build leaders for the future in the military? >> guest: you know we have a great system in the military itself but let me go to the leadership. i was fortunate is a retired from being the chairman that my alma mater wanted to establish a leadership under my name and basic we focus on young people
starting at the high school level right up into college and even have a segment that would be designed for the corporate world as well. so we have done that and it has been a great experience because i've watched them really young people come into a program not knowing what leadership even meant. in my opinion it is the art of influencing others or one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way meaning we lead by example and the coach, teach and mentor along the way and set the example for our people. so we started this program and i had a chance to see young people who at first glance didn't have much leadership potential, but through training and through being shown how to do things and given the opportunity had developed into being some really fine makers. i believe you can grow leaders. even with those who initially don't show a disposition toward that. it has been a great experience and an army he would take these
young graduates from rotc or the academies and through a system of schools in the service, starting with the basic course, then carrying into an advanced course and then command and general staff in the national war college at every level. we have got institutions that are designed to train and develop our leaders and we have the same thing with their noncommissioned officers. that is why our sergeants and our officer corps are so strong. >> host: but you have always maintained he lead from the front, that you yourself always volunteer to go out with the men on the front lines and be a commanding officer in the rear. and as a result of that, you are always identified early for promotion and you called it flying under the radar. you also talk in the book about some in the military that are ambitious obviously. you were ambitious to do the right thing, to be the best he
could be but the message underlying all throughout the book is, don't be so concerned about climbing the wrong, each rung on the latter. to the best job he can while you have it and there were many negative experience you talk about in the book, negative at the time but he came valuable to you when you came to serve as the joint chiefs. even as you say in the book he never had ambition to be chairman of the joint chiefs. you just did the best job he could in all of of the assignments ahead and he were recognized for your leadership potential under those circumstances. that is something that we need to instill in not just military but throughout our society. let me talk about iraq right now, afghanistan. from your book it seems you pretty much opposed going into iraq. could you talk a little bit about the advice that you you you are giving at that time? >> guest: well, early on after 9/11 there was a great push to go into iraq.
that was the precipitous event that the cabinet asked me to create, with one major fault. there was not one shred of evidence to show that the iraqi's were involved in any way, shape or form so from day one as chairman i said we should not go into iraq. it will undermine us throughout the middle east. they knew iraq was not involved with 9/11. that is what the both the cia and fbi were saying 100%. it is all qaeda. i thought that would he a big mistake and you combine that with the fact that during your container and continuing under secretary rumsfeld we had continued to take out more and more of the iraqi capability so what they had left was almost nil, very little. i think in retrospect there is no doubt iraq is a better place without saddam hussein however we had iraq contained. they had no i -- capability.
every time they fired, they lost more, so they didn't have much left to lose and it was obvious going into iraq you could do it with a small force if you wanted to because the military had been decimated that you were going to need a very large force if you wanted to keep the shia, the shiite and courage from killing one another. that is all the tell them apart. >> host: was at the advice he gave the president? >> guest: that is the advice i gave the president and the advice they gave the joint chiefs a couple of months before the decision was made to go into iraq. if you going you will need a much stronger force to maintain the peace. you can win the war but you can't natan at peace unless you have a large force to do it. >> host: you told the joint chiefs and the joint chiefs were consulted. >> guest: i think ultimately the secretary elected to go with the combatant commanders plan
and he put some pressure on him to reduce the forces. he got the force is down to where they felt like they could do it with that and they did. they ignore the joint chiefs cry eric shinseki for example, general shinseki said you need 160,000. general shinseki is the guy that ran last me a force during your tenure. he knew what a stabilization force requires in order to keep people from killing each other. we see what resulted. >> host: what is happened in your judgment to the military today in terms of its abilities? we are seeing more and more suicides coming out of the army particularly. what is happening to the state of readiness? you talk a lot about readiness in the book but as a result of expanded -- extended deployments could talk about combat stress and what it does to the individual. there is an author patterson who
has written extensively about post-traumatic stress and he described it in one of his books saying, if you take your cat and put them in your backyard and you spend the evening lobbying hand grenades all night at the cat, you will have a different cat in the morning. we are seeing some of that play out in post-traumatic stress with multiple deployments. what is that due to the individual, what does it do to the family, what does it do to the integrity of the military itself now? >> guest: i don't think there is any question it has had a tremendous impact on both the army and the marine corps. first of all let me say, our men and women that serve today are doing yeoman service and they are carrying out the mission that has been given to them in a very fine fashion. we have got great leadership. if that great ncos and soldiers sailors airmen and marines but having said that i see a lot of marines because i live in an area that has a tremendous amount. i was just at fort bragg last
week at fort benning down in tampa at central command and socom. the stress is tremendous. the repetitive appointments on our people are taking their toll. you see it in terms of the divorce rates. you see it in terms is as you mentioned the suicide rates. and my real concern is we also in order to maintain the force levels where they are and even increase it in many cases, we have had to lower the standards. that means we have lowered the aptitude requirements. we have lowered the educational requirements. we have raised the age limit up to 42 that you can enlist. the quality of the force under the current enlistment standards will actually go down from where it was during your tenure as secretary and as chairman and i'm quite concerned about that. i've had several senior leaders talk to me about that. so that is what i see as long-range. that spells trouble for us because we started off with such quality force by the as these
repetitive tours keep going and the stress level keeps up my concern is our quality of force will continue to go down. >> host: looking at the choices does it mean we need more high-quality people or fewer deployments? what is the mix that we need right now as we are looking at our deficit, which is significant. there are now proposals to cut defense as well as other programs. what will your choices be to either increase the size of the force which caused a great deal of money or to cut down on deployments and be much more restrictive than selective in terms of where you put these young men and women which i agree are of the finest. it is exhilarating to be in their presence when you see how it dedicated, they tried again courageous they are. but they are going back and back and back and it is taking its toll. we have a trade-off we are going to look at. what is your recommendation? >> guest: first and foremost as you know we always ought to
use our diplomatic economic and political tools in the kit bag before we use the military and therefore if there's any way we can avoid having to send our chips and we certainly should do that. given where we are in afghanistan, we will have to see what is coming out of the meeting regarding afghanistan and a long-range plan but certainly we need to try to start in some way decreasing the deployment and make you get a longer time between deployments. but that i see as almost, we have to look at the quality but what does it take to get the quality young men and women in this country to enlist in our armed forces even given that they are going to have repetitive deployments. as she moved congress is paid to maintain armies by the constitution as part of their sponsored bill of the. with that i see a requirement to make sure that the uniformed leadership speaks out in terms of what it is going to take in terms of incentives to get the
right people to come into the army and not to keep lowering the standards and we have got to meet our reenlistment objectives and putting pressure on the recruiting commands, but rather look at what we can can do incentive wise to get people to come in. does it take more education credits? what does it take? there are tools as you know that can be used. >> host: you talk about the need to have adequate health care. the health care build the time that you and i were serving in the pentagon as i recall was 19 billion per year and it is now about 55 and escalating and you have secretary gates saying we have got to have some kind of restraint here. now there is one component that would be important to attract people, quality people to come into the military. one of the other ones -- what else will pull people up? >> guest: i say this in the context when you decided after completing your first two years in the military, you go back
home to your wife. you have got a good job and a 62 corvette. you love corvettes and swapped in the 63 impala for the corvette. you had a nice german shepherd named stryker or trooper. you had kind of the ideal life and yet you decided he wanted to go back and having surgery two years she said i want to go back and. what drove you back what holds you back in from that quality of life you had at that point had at a very young age? >> guest: you might say it was the brand of -- band of robbers centrum. the first cab division. my close friends had been wounded or killed in being back in the textile business i was doing very well. i worked for some great guys there, but i felt like i had a calling to go back and join them and help in its fight and our country had elected to put our
military and. that drove me to say, and i really enjoyed my time in the military because of that close association with people and leading people and having a chance on a daily basis to have 40 or 50 people in my platoon. that was a great challenge and a great opportunity as i saw it. >> host: i asked at the context, what if we go back to a draft situation as compared to an all-volunteer force and most of the uniformed military including yourself would rather have people who want to be there. what you feel about a two-year commitment to universal service so you could develop the same kind of relationships whether one is serving in the military in the peace corps, working to help out in nursing homes, something you contribute to the community locally and at large. does that then helped to build this band of brothers ship or sisterhood that you have been
with people who are committed to a cause higher than yourself in that builds a sense of wanting to do more? a case to be made for that. >> guest: the leadership had three legs, personal integrity, personal ethics and selfless service and i really believe that ties into selfless service. i think every american owes it to this great nation of ours to give a portion, a very small portion for most of us of their life to helping the country. and service in some organization with a the right thing to do. it could be the military. it could be the peace corps. it could be other organizations but i think you gain a lot from that. i've never talked to anyone who served a couple of years in the service that didn't comment on what it did for them. i've even talk to ceos of some of our fortune 100 companies that say those two years that i spent, one of them two years as an enlisted man in vietnam, said
i have never forgotten lessons i learned and the leadership that i learned during that period of time. it is quite impressive so i think we all gain from that in the nation certainly gained. >> host: what you see is the biggest threat to this country looking today and into tomorrow? >> guest: you know, i think in terms of external threats i think the biggest thing we have to watch is our military now has an afghan, we have got a whole decade of officers and soldiers throughout that have only had an afghan and iraq experience. we walked away from some of the training that we used to do 10 years ago that prepared us to fight in a joint environment as army, air force, integrated force and large-scale. as we looks downstream at potential threats and whether not we looked at china and the rowing capabilities they are gaining and their desires to control and the pacific or whether we look at a potential
north korea or iran scenario, that is not the same type of situation that you would find yourself an iraq or afghanistan. so we need to try to refocus site believed to make sure that we can deal with the total threat, not just the current threat. >> host: what are your thoughts about the situation in north korea right now? >> guest: you know, kim jong-il is one of those individuals that i think trying to read his mind is almost mission impossible, so i think we just have to be prepared. at the same time, we have got some countries like japan and south korea working with us and us leaning on china and hopefully the u.n. leaning on china to actively engage with the north koreans and solve this situation politically, diplomatically, economically if that is what it takes rather than using the military and doing everything within our power to keep that from turning into a hot war.
but again we have to be prepared to go to the rescue of our great plans and partners there and south korea. that means a totally different focus infighting in another theater and with the forces stretched in the army and marine corps that is pretty -- >> host: are you optimistic about afghanistan, where we are today and what the prospect looks like in terms of bringing that country to a stable situation where they can secure their own borders as such and not provide a haven for either al qaeda or the taliban? >> guest: mr. secretary i am not optimistic right now and i go back to the morning of 12 september, 2001 when george tenet the director of the cia says the toughest days we will -- thing we will face in afghanistan are the warlords. you have got a 14th century culture, second most corrupt nation in the world, and we have got training an army and giving
karzai at the central government president whoever he is to force us internally and protect him internally and externally and that is a tall order given the 14 century culture. to think we can do that and start pulling our combat forces out as early as 2011 think it's a bridge too far. you can't get there from here and whether or not we want to commit to a long-term and leave a stable government behind keeping in mind that pakistan is a very important partner as well particular nuclear weapons. we don't want them to fall to al qaeda and they have a big threat themselves. so trying to work in that region and leave behind the region that is free of al qaeda or taliban rule is it pretty tall order in a campy done by 2011 or 2012. if that is our goal to have it wrapped up ivan, personally i would say we might as well start leaving out because he you can't get there from here. >> host: chairman of the joint
chiefs and secretary talked about 2014 persuading our nato allies that it is a more realistic timeframe but even looking at 2014, given the history in afghanistan, given the problems of illiteracy, just given the power of the warlords etc. you have articulated, is it any more realistic and 2014 we will be in a situation to say it can be a stable country and provide a haven? >> guest: i don't think to say you can start pulling our forces out in a major way between now and 2014 or even shortly thereafter is probably realistic it is a long-term, if you want to fix this country it will take a long time and i would say conservatively about eight to 10 years would be more realistic. >> host: we will have to have some presence in afghanistan in order to have a presence affecting pakistan. ife